La-Mulana is a side scrolling platform game released in 2005 for Windows PCs that features graphics and an interface inspired by MSX games. The game is a traditional action-adventure game, reminiscent of the Castlevania and Metroid games. This game was originally only available in Japanese, but an English translation patch has been produced by Ian Kelley of AGTP. The game has been announced for a future WiiWare release.
The protagonist of the game is a whip wielding adventurer similar to Indiana Jones exploring the tomb within La-Mulana. Although there is only one ending in the game there are many ways to get there, in that completing objectives in the game (gaining power ups and reaching new areas) is not linear, nor is there an obvious recommended path to take. Many powerups will allow you to reach new areas (similar to Super Metroid), but the game gives no indication of where to go.
Since the game was intended as a tribute to the MSX games of the 1980s (and especially to Maze of Galious), it uses the 16-color palette and low resolution typical of those games. Also, the opening sequence parodies the typical load screen of the MSX, displaying the amount of available video RAM and a copy of the MSX logo. The protagonist also has a laptop MSX in his possession throughout the game, and can collect or buy ROM cartridges for it; many of these can be combined to produce various special effects.
Initially the protagonist is only equipped with a whip, and has a small amount of vitality. Items in the game help advance the plot, some of which do not grant any abilities, but open up a new area or allow another item to be taken. Other items, however, do grant the protagonist abilities, and some are also required to access new areas of the game.
Most non-boss enemies in the game will not cause a lot of damage to the protagonist, however there are very few ways to restore life, and in many cases getting hit will cause the protagonist to fall down and lose significant progress. An item in the game is available early on that enables teleportation back to the start (the location of the game's only save point) in addition to various waypoints. As explained in the game's manual, the general strategy of the game is to explore and solve as many puzzles as possible before getting low on life and teleport back when the risk of death becomes too great. However, actions taken in certain rooms can make it very difficult to return after warping out, so warping out is not always the wise action.
One of the principles behind the game's design is difficulty: as described in the game's manual, the developers were disappointed in the lack of difficulty prevalent among many games of the current era (around 2005-2007), and sought to help create a sense of tension in the game—the example they gave was that, if one were a real-life archaeologist, one might think twice before jumping into a dark pit, but in many videogames, it is too easy to simply attempt the action, suffer the consequences, and reload. The tension is created by arming many features in the game with various traps that can easily befall reckless adventurers (as also noted by the wealth of skeletons in the dungeon), as well as several complete dead ends (notorious among well-versed players), from which, short of teleportation, there is no way out. These traps are explained in-game to exist in order to protect these sacred ruins.
The WiiWare version will feature a number of changes, partly to tone down the difficulty and improve design in order to appeal to a larger audience, partly to give players who've played the original a new experience, and partly due to copyright issues. In addition, the graphics will be updated to a smoother style and the music will come in orchestrated form.
The last category includes such changes as:
Renaming the MSX computer system the "Mobile Super X".
A revision to the melody of "Curse of IRON PIPE" in order to remove similarities with a certain track from the game Ashguine II.
After the release of the English translation patch for the game, the game was played by gaming websites 1UP.com and Joystiq. It was received as a fun game, with 1UP.com calling the game 'a great exploratory platformer along the lines of Metroid or Castlevania that completely nails the graphical and musical style of an MSX game, however, both websites noted that the game is extremely difficult.
Source: Wikipedia, "La Mulana", available under the CC-BY-SA License.